Foreign and Commonwealth brass plaque outside the offices in Westminster, London

“A complete lack of balance” – Interim leadership team announced for FCDO

The interim leadership team for the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has been announced by permanent undersecretary Philip Barton.

Appointments include Tim Barrow, who currently serves as the UK’s ambassador to the EU, coming in to the new department as political director, and Juliet Chua, who moves from being DFID’s director general for finance and corporate performance into the position of director general of finance and corporate.

There are also positions for Tom Drew, who moves from director general of consular and security into director general for MENA, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moazzam Malik shifts from director general of country programs for DFID to director general for Africa. Vijay Rangarajan will be director general for Americas and overseas territories after serving as ambassador to Brazil. Jenny Bates becomes director general for Indo-Pacific after serving as director general for Europe in the FCO. And Kumar Lyer, who will be director general for delivery for FCDO after serving as director general in the prime minister’s Covid-19 task force.

The placements are for an initial six months from 1 September, when the new department is due to open its doors.

In a statement to Devex, Mr Barton said the new appointees would “ensure that [the department] ha[s] a diverse Board in place from day one.”

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Lack of balance

However, there is an apparent disparity between men and women, as well as those with experience in development as opposed to foreign policy.

Our CEO, Stephanie Draper, pointed out these discrepancies in our response:

“We are disappointed to see a complete lack of balance between development and foreign policy experience in the newly announced FCDO interim leadership team and are concerned this could be a sign of development increasingly taking a back seat to diplomatic and commercial interests.

“If this merger is to succeed, then it requires a balance across areas of expertise such as tackling disease, assisting humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts, providing sanitation and clean water, or securing access to quality education for girls – it is critical that the final senior team and non-executive roles have an equal balance of development and diplomatic experience.”

With FCDO due to open its doors on 1 September, it remains to be seen how the two very different tasks of helping the world’s poorest and managing international diplomacy will work within the new department.